Bhutan

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Persistent violations
  • Gender-based violence and domestic violence[1]
  • Corporal punishment[2]
  • Education (high number of drop-outs and regional and gender-based disparities)[3]
  • Inadequate health care services (including adolescent and reproductive health education[4]
  • Child labour[5]
  • Discrimination against children of Nepalese ethnic origins (particularly with regards to nationality)[6]
  • Detention of minors[7]
  • Inadequate services for children with disabilities (particularly with regards to education)[8]
  • Inadequate laws on adoption[9]
  • Inadequate measures taken against sexual exploitation[10]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

The Kingdom of Bhutan (Druk Yul), literally the Land of the Thunder Dragon in the national language, is named after the violent storms that rage across the eastern Himalayas in which the country is nestled. Isolated from the outside world for centuries, Bhutan began to open its borders in the 1970s and since 2008 has undergone a transition towards parliamentary democracy. There are serious restrictions on civil and political rights in the country, including reports of the persecution of the Christian minority as well as Lhotshampa peoples.


Geography

The Kingdom of Bhutan (Druk Yul) means "Land of the Thunder Dragon" after the storms which rage across the eastern Himalayas in which the country is nestled. A small landlocked country in South Asia, Bhutan is bounded by Tibet (China) to the north and India to the south. Its terrain is mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savannah. The country's capital is Thimphu.

Population and Language

The population of Bhutan numbers just 738,300.[1] The main ethnic groups are the Drukpa which comprise the Sharchops - the country's oldest inhabitants - who originated from Myanmar and north-east India and the Ngalops, who came from the Tibetan plains, bringing with them the Buddhist way of life which pervades Bhutan today; and the Lhotshampas, of Nepalese origin, most of whom migrated in the early 20th century.

The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha - a Tibetan derived language. Many dialects of this language survive as a result of the country's geographic isolation.

History and Politics

The Kingdom of Bhutan has been ruled by an absolute monarchy since 1907 (the Wangchuk). A new constitution in 2008 marked Bhutan's transition towards a parliamentary democracy; the constitution was planned over a period of seven years, during which time various reforms were gradually enacted. The constitution provides for a bicameral parliament consisting of the National Council (the upper house) and the National Assembly (the lower house). The lower house is elected, and the King nominates the leader of the majority party to serve as prime minister.

Historically, Bhutan became a British protectorate in 1910 after signing a treaty authorising Britain to direct its foreign affairs. India assumed this role after achieving independence from Britain in 1947. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed a Treaty of Friendship to affirm peaceful relations and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and in which Bhutan agreed to consult India on matters of foreign policy. This treaty was re-negotiated in 2007 to allow Bhutan greater sovereignty.

Economy

Bhutan is one of the world's smallest and least developed economies. Some two thirds of people in employment depend on agriculture for their livelihood.[2] Hydroelectricity and tourism are growing industries, although tourism is tightly restricted, and visitors must be part of a guided tour.

India and Bangladesh are the country's principal trade partners; Bhutan is also a member of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement. However, interference from the government has rendered foreign investment from other sources almost non-existent. In addition, geographical barriers have hampered development of the country's infrastructure.

Media and Civil Society

The 2008 constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression. However, the 1992 National Security Act prohibits criticism of the King and political system. Public media outlets generally paint a favourable picture of the political system, but have levelled some criticism at the government in recent times. There are also an increasing number of private media outlets. Attacks on journalists are a rare occurrence.[3] Bhutan is ranked 70/179 countries on reporters without Borders press freedom index, where 179 is the least free.[4]

Human Rights and Children's Rights

Civil and political rights are limited, for example, the government must approve any protests, and persecution of the Christian minority has been reported.

The Lhotshampas have been subject to persecution, harassment and arrest, and many were expelled or fled to Nepal in the 1980s and 90s, following the imposition of a citizenship act which applied new criteria for citizenship. The act, which was aimed at preserving the culture of the dominant Drukpa ethnic group, instituted fines or a term of imprisonment for those who failed to wear the national dress, among other transgressions. More than 90,000 Lhotshampas are still based in refugee camps in Nepal.[5]

The 2008 constitution includes specific provisions for children's rights, however a range of violations persist, including the lack of a clear definition of the child, discrimination against certain groups of children, including girls and children of Nepalese ethnic origin. In addition, for children to obtain citizenship, both their parents must be Bhutanese, leading many children to become stateless.[6]

  1. UNDP, "Bhutan country profile: human development indicators"
  2. World Food Programme, "Bhutan: Livelihoods"
  3. Freedom House, "Freedom in the World 2011"
  4. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/2012"
  5. Association of Human Rights Activists, Bhutan, "Government repression of southern Bhutanese (Lhotshampas)"
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding Observations for Bhutan's Second Periodic Report"

Sources:


Quick Facts

  • Population: 750,400 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 258,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of internet users: 150,548 (21% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 140 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet Index ranking: N/A